Beginner Stouts

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JG629, Jan 27, 2013.

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  1. JuicesFlowing

    JuicesFlowing Poo-Bah (2,132) Jul 5, 2009 Kansas

    I appreciate your opinion. My response was from my own experience, but I understand what you are saying, because there are styles I don't like, but if I had the best, I'm good. I just happen to really love stouts, so my perspective is from trying every stout there is out there. I hadn't tried Sierra Nevada stout until years later, and because of every other stout I had, I knew SN made a really great one.
  2. EdelweissDad

    EdelweissDad Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2012 Georgia

    I think doing a mix and match sixy is a great idea for quick variety. But even before that, I think you need to identify what it is about stouts that makes it difficult for you to get into. Is it the thick, malty character that sits heavy on the back of your throat? Or maybe you've tried some coffee or American (hop-centered) stouts that are too much on flavor for your palate?

    Knowing what style beers you ALREADY like will help you identify the particular attributes of a stout that are more foreign and difficult to get into. Are you an IPA/hoppy beer kind of guy? Or do you prefer a malty sweetness to beers? If you're used to hoppy, ease your way into hoppier (American) stouts. If malty/sweet, go that route (traditional English brews like Samuel Smith).

    Also, note that American stouts are generally more effervescent/carbonated than Euro stouts. So if "flat," malty beers are difficult to stomach for you, I'd go American.

    Generally speaking, I think Oatmeal Stouts (try Samuel Smith's or Anderson Valley's) are the all around easiest stouts to ease your way into the class. Remember too that beer styles are somewhat ambiguous. Lots of Porters (intended to be the "little brother" of the stout) could just as easily be called stouts. Porters are on the lighter side (regarding malt character) so try some of those too. I'd steer clear of the chocolate/double-chocolates stouts at first--they can be quite overwhelming. And try coffee/breakfast stouts depending on your liking for coffee. And I wouldn't be intimidated by Imperial Stouts: they're just higher in alcohol, but the character and flavors will still be neutral. My thought on imperials is if you can drink a glass of wine, you can drink an imperial. The alcohol volume in an imperial stout is not likely to put you off near as much as the other flavors and characters that accompany it. That said, I think Old Rasputin is actually not a bad one to try early on.

    Hope this helps! Remember, getting into new beer styles takes time--and there's nothing wrong with easing your way into them!
  3. PatriotsRule

    PatriotsRule Aspirant (257) Sep 25, 2012 Massachusetts

    Ipswich Oatmeal. Also from MA is the delicious Two Headed Beast from High & Mighty. For an imperial, try the Storm King from Victory!
  4. frankthetank86

    frankthetank86 Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 New York

    but why? why do you think only that method works? I took my lady out, she has no clue the difference between and ipa or a stout. I ordered two KBS and she fell head over heels for the good stuff. she tells me she can't go back to guiness or anything less than KBS. I approve.
    teal likes this.
  5. Profchaos20

    Profchaos20 Disciple (381) Jan 19, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I'd with an Irish dry stout such as Guiness or Murphy's both are easy to drink and not loaded with flavor. Then go for a oatmeal stout such as Samuel Smith or Rogue's Shakespeare. Both styles are really easy to get into compared to Imperial Stouts which can be overwhelming for a beginner with the amount of flavor and alcohol in them.
    supermodified likes this.
  6. StoutChaser7D

    StoutChaser7D Initiate (171) Nov 16, 2012 California

    That is great, there is nothing wrong with that at all. It is more the implication that the regular stouts are not worth trying. As what is usually said on this site, it is personal preference. For me gaining an appreciation for oatmeals, nitros, coffees, and chocolates, enhanced the experience of bourbons, imperials, and russians. It is by no means the only way, to each their own, what I suggested is exactly that, a suggestion.
  7. vurt

    vurt Savant (944) Apr 11, 2004 Oregon
    Premium Member

    Stout is a really broad category. Instead of starting with one extreme or the other, maybe the OP should start with a sampling that covers the whole spectrum. Here's a selection of stout styles and some examples of each that should be easy to find (there might also be local examples available):

    -Dry Irish Stout (Guinness Draught)
    -Oatmeal Stout (Firestone Velvet Merlin or Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout)
    -Milk/Cream Stout (Samuel Adams Cream Stout)
    -American Stout (Sierra Nevada Stout or Deschutes Obsidian Stout)
    -Foreign/Export Stout (Guinness Foreign Extra Stout)
    -Imperial Stout (North Coast Old Rasputin)

    This should be a wide enough range that you can start targeting the strength/flavor profile you prefer. If you like the chocolate notes in the roasted malt, try some stouts with chocolate (Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout or Young's Double Chocolate Stout). If you like coffee, seek out stouts made with coffee (since the OP is in PA, look for examples from Bell's and Founders).
    Gunboat82 and StoutChaser7D like this.
  8. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,235) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    I agree with this list. I'd add Old Rasputin to it as well.
  9. 94Sip

    94Sip Initiate (0) Jun 10, 2012 Texas

    The first stout I had was Old Rasputin and I was blown away. From there the thing for me is discerning between the high ABVs and the low ABVs. So just to add to the convo, here is what I would recommend to get into stouts:

    1. Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout
    2. Sam Adams Cream Stout
    3. LH Milk Stout
    4. Boulevard Dark Truth
    5. Old Rasputin
    6. Convict Hill - Oatmeal Stout (Texas beer)
    7. Brooklyn Black Choc. stout

    For me I could not stand the Deschuttes stouts - way too much hops/bitterness - tasted like an IPA crossed with a stout.
  10. JustXBeer

    JustXBeer Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Black Tuesday, that's how I learned...Been chasing the Dragon ever since.
  11. Strafefire

    Strafefire Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2013

    At first I was about to wade in declaring the idea of beginner and advanced beers and the fact someone starts at a 'foundation' level stout is bloody preposterous.

    Then it dawned on me this approach might actually work for people. Everyone is different, their conceptions of taste and even their default palette might mean kicking things off to Status Quo levels with imperial/double imperial/ that ridiculous Tactical Nuclear Penguin from brewdog might be the way to go.

    Best advice I can give is that life is too short, so cast the net far and wide. I used to be a one horse race Guinness drinker, now I am drinking dunkel weissbier, schwarzbier and ipa's like they are going out of fashion. Point being is to experiment, you might be as lucky as I have been and ending up immensely enjoying a little of everything.

    As for actual suggestions, look up Dark Side from Bath Ales, Meantime London Stout or even a classic Mackeson's Milk Stout, these three won't steer you far wrong.
  12. Bear1964

    Bear1964 Zealot (548) Dec 12, 2012 Nebraska

    That's a YES and a YES....I will be having a Samuel Adams Cream Stout in about 5 minutes....Cheers!
  13. jmgrub

    jmgrub Initiate (0) Nov 20, 2010 California

    Left Hand Milk Stout, Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Founders Porter, Weyerbacher Heresy for barrel-aged (widely available, inexpensive, solid).

    To be honest, I never "started" anywhere in particular. If you see something that interests you, try it. Eventually you will find your sweet spot through triangulation.
    vurt likes this.
  14. MaxOhle

    MaxOhle Devotee (419) Nov 10, 2012 Illinois

    Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout, a great one.
  15. Sipchue

    Sipchue Devotee (455) Mar 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Lots' of good stuff mentioned here. Some folks get off on telling you what they like. Others have given it a bit more thought (thankfully). My initial thought is to suggest that you learn about, and try the smorgasbord. If you consider the dry Irish Stouts, the English Porters, the American Stouts and the Imperials, all are different and separate sub-sets of what we fondly refer to as the style called 'stout'. Just have a few, from the milder to the wilder, and please share your experiences. That's all that matters, after all.
  16. AlaskanYoung

    AlaskanYoung Disciple (379) Dec 1, 2011 Arkansas

    North coast brewing - old rasputin russian imperial stout
  17. gcamparone

    gcamparone Poo-Bah (1,531) Dec 6, 2011 Rhode Island
    Beer Trader

    Based on my own experience, im a firm believer that you have to start with lower abv, non imperial beers then move to the more robust varieties. Can anyone here say that they truly loved ipas the first time they tried one? Then why would you give a new drinker a dipa?
  18. Spaghett

    Spaghett Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2011 California

    Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Anderson Valley Barney Flats are delicious and accessible stouts. In fact I am going to go grab a Sammy after this message. Porters are a nice way to get your foot in the stout door also!
  19. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (3,727) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Victory Storm King
    oatmeal stouts
  20. NABS

    NABS Initiate (176) May 11, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I know Terrapin makes it to PA, though I don't know which ones. If you can find Moo Hoo, do yourself a favor and grab some. (Their Wake N Bake is a coffee one, VERY GOOD, if anything will overwhelm you, it's the coffee flavor.) Left Hand Milk Stout NITRO is good. (Regular Milk Stout won't hurt you either.) An off-the-beaten-path suggestion is, if you have a Trader Joe's around you, find their Stockyard Oatmeal Stout. Buck-a-bottle and well worth it. Not that I didn't love stouts already, but it is a staple, at least when I can get some.
  21. flayedandskinned

    flayedandskinned Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    North Coast Old No. 38 or their Old Rasputin
  22. masterofsparks

    masterofsparks Defender (659) Nov 15, 2009 Ohio

    Showing my age here, but Mackeson was the first one that really grabbed me. I'd say Old Rasputin is a good place to start. And I don't think it's a bad idea to start with a porter if you want to take baby steps into the big imperial stouts.
  23. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    Left Hand Milk Stout was the one that drew me in. A good starter. Always available, affordable, highly drinkable, and won't rape your taste buds.
  24. mecummins

    mecummins Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2012 Illinois

    I agree. This was a great porter. Full flavored but not too heavy. Very easy to drink. I usually like to do mixed 6 packs when I buy my beer, but I ended up going back and buying a 6 pack of just this because it was so good. If you can get (or trade for) Revolution's Eugene Porter, try this too. FBS is an amazing beer, but it's heavier than other stouts/porters so you may want to work your way up.
  25. JG629

    JG629 Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Probably will grab a few single bottles of the beers I've seen suggested here and see what I like and take some tasting notes to compare as my palate develops.
    StoutChaser7D likes this.
  26. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    IMHO Old Rasputin, Great Lakes Blackout, Deschutes Obsidian, Let Hand Milk Stout Nitro, Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, and Bell's Double Cream Stout. Dark Horse One isnt bad either. Those are the most approachable stouts, and none are too much.
  27. BrownAleMale

    BrownAleMale Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2011 Wisconsin
    ¬°Bad Trader! Beer Trader

    Samuel Smith Chocolate stout
  28. combatFlexo

    combatFlexo Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2012 Michigan

    Founders Breakfast stout started it for me. Also Magic Hat's - heart of darkness.
  29. taxman

    taxman Initiate (0) Feb 22, 2012 Illinois

    Left Handed Milk Stout Nitro.
  30. t4haughton

    t4haughton Initiate (163) Jan 24, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Old Rasputin and Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout were gateway drugs and easily available at the local Trader Joes. When a friend introduced to me to Bourbon County that's when I got serious.
  31. frankthetank86

    frankthetank86 Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2012 New York

    if you give the guy youngs double chocolate he might gag like i did. its watery shit juice. foreeal. i think if you try something a little more complex, something with a full bodied flavor you might just love stouts forever. forever. FOR EVVV ERRRRRR
  32. Treyliff

    Treyliff Poo-Bah (3,610) Aug 10, 2010 West Virginia
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Bells double cream is a good choice. It isn't as roasted and malty as most stouts but still very good. My wife hates stouts but she even liked it.
  33. Michigan

    Michigan Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 Michigan

    Start with a Porter. Founders Porter to be exact. if you like it, take a crake at a Founders Breakfast Stout
  34. TheSixthRing

    TheSixthRing Poo-Bah (2,604) Sep 24, 2008 California

    Do you want to scar the man? Old Rasputin is harsh. Even now, with all the RIS's I've had, I still find OR harsh.
  35. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,719) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Im at a loss for words here. I think you are the 1st person to ever say that about OR.

  36. TheSixthRing

    TheSixthRing Poo-Bah (2,604) Sep 24, 2008 California

    Really? I can't be the only one who finds Old Raspy harsh. I like it, but it's hard to get down once it warms.
  37. BladeRunner

    BladeRunner Aspirant (210) Apr 4, 2007 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The OP asked for beginner stouts to get his feet wet and some of you guys are recommending huge stouts like KBS, Yeti, Stone IRS, Boris the Crusher, etc??? Do you guys not understand that not everyone's palate is ready for such big beers from the beginning? Sure, there are some exceptions, but I can tell you the majority of people starting out can't handle such big beers in the beginning. It's always smarter to start small and work your way up as you develop your palate.

    Why the need to rush the experience?
  38. Gregfalone

    Gregfalone Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    Samuel smith oatmeal stout is a good one. If you haven't tried many porters you should try thier taddy porter, deschutes black butte, and anchor porter. All very good and similar to stouts. Stouts and porters are pretty much the same thing

    There are much heavier stouts you can try as well if you like big beers, like victory at sea, abyss (not as easy to get), and black butte anniversary porters.

    This list is based on the assumption that you are on the west coast
  39. sukwonee

    sukwonee Crusader (740) Dec 13, 2011 Washington
    Beer Trader

    yep x 2
  40. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (404) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    There is no reason to avoid any stout. Look for some with high ratings. Just keep in mind that there are beers known as Imperial Stouts and Russian Imperial Stouts that are going have stronger flavors and more alcohol.
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